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My Join-Up® Experience

Bucking horse during join-up


Background on my relationship with my horse ...
I have had Romeo since June of this year. I bought him as an unbroken 6 year old. He is a very sweet horse, but can be very pushy with me at times. After working with him and a trainer for about 3 months we hit some issues with him bucking and sent him to a reining farm for a couple of months of under saddle work. Romeo is doing extremely well with the cowboys.
Romeo will be coming back home at the end of the month. THe trainers want me to ride him on Thursday, but I am noticing some disturbing behaviors on the ground - one of which found its way into our join-up session today. He is very pushy and has a tendency to try to walk in front of me and push me around with his body. It has gotten worse recently.

Join-up attempt 1 ...
Today I took him into the round pen. I oriented him to the pen and I gave him the go away signal. After about 6 laps I made him change direction at 2 o'clock and do another 5 or so laps. His ear was locked on me and his circles were getting smaller. He tried to come on but I kept my eyes locked on his and sent him back out with my rope. He then started bucking and kicking his inside leg in towards me. I was well out of the kick zone, but I felt the gesture was intentional on his part. I made him stay away and he calmed and lowered his head for periods.

Unfortunately the farm was showing a yearling to a prospective buyer and needed the round pen, so I had to cut our join up short and I did not get the licking and chewing.

I turned my shoulder and he came right up to me.

Would this be considered semi-successful? I know my horse doubts my leadership and I really want to establish that with him on the ground first before I venture into the saddle again, as my last ride on him cost my 3 broken ribs.

vicci - UK (North Wales)
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If he is still very pushy on the ground I think you need to discuss this with your trainers, this should not be happening after 3 months of work with them. Did you and/or your trainers visit the reining farm at all to see how they were working with Romeo?

Please do not feel pressured to ride him on Thursday, if you are not happy with this groundwork then you may feel nervous riding him (understandably) and he may react to this. There is no shame in saying "not yet" - I waited 20 years to get back on a horse after a bad fall, so you're doing fine! :-)

In terms of the join-up...I can't honestly answer what was going on with the buck and kick but you worked through it and he came in to you so yes, it was as you say "semi-successful" but there do appear to be some leadership issues as you have rightly identified. I think its time to revisit this with your trainers before you go any further in my opinion. Stick to your guns, you are dead right to say you want the ground work right first!

Good luck.


The interesting thing about Romeo's behavior is that he is behaving worse with me since going to the reining farm. I have watched them work with him and he is a perfect gentleman with them.
I have not been involved in most of the training that has been happening with Romeo in the past two months at the reining farm.
I believe he is questioning my leadership more now since I have probably not been as clear and concise in my language as the cowboys. If he doesn't do what he is supposed to do - he knows it. And because I have not been involved in the training process since he came to this farm, I think I have to clarify where I fall in the hierarchy. I went out today and will do so everyday this week to work with him in the roundpen on the ground.